Thursday, May 19, 2022

There Are Some Questions

[EDITORIAL]

They are here to stay.

There is one on Maple Avenue in Wethersfield just before joining the Berlin Turnpike.

You see them on the trunk of police cars.

What are they?

License plate readers as you drive by either the camera mounted on a telephone pole or the backs of police cars read your license plate, check the database to see if the car is wanted or stolen, and records the date, time, and place of the reading, and then stores the data.

It is the very last part in have trouble with, the storing and the usage of the data.

License plate-reading cameras, just installed in West Hartford, meant to fight crime, police say
By Jesse Leavenworth
Hartford Courant
May 18, 2022


West Hartford — License plate-reading cameras have been placed around West Hartford to help solve and reduce crime, police said.

The 13 cameras were installed in strategic areas during a trial period for testing and evaluation that runs through June 30, Assistant Police Chief Lawrence Terra said Wednesday. Built by Flock Safety, the cameras are not meant to record plates for traffic and parking offenses, but rather for serious crimes, police said.

The cameras capture vehicle information, not people or faces, and send instant alerts to police when a stolen car or wanted suspect from a state or national database enters town, police said. The cameras also can send alerts if a vehicle associated with a missing person in an AMBER or Silver Alert is detected.

Police want to see how efficient, cost effective and useful the system is and plan to compare the Flock Safety cameras with similar products made by other companies, Terra said.

Police say they will maintain an updated policy around the system. Each search requires justification, and the data is never sold or shared with third parties, police said.

“...the data is never sold or shared with third parties…” but there are no laws preventing that, it is just a policy and a policy can be changed with a stroke of a pen, or now a days with a click of a key.

Atlanta-based Flock Safety is described on its website as a public safety operating system that helps communities and law enforcement in over 1,500 cities work together to eliminate crime. The company cites statistics from the International Association of Chiefs of Police that up to 70% of crime involves the use of a vehicle, making registration records crucial to many investigations.

Now suppose their database is hacked?

Or suppose that Flock Safety is sold and the new company sells the information to ad companies and all of sudden you are getting ads to your favorite store that you visit just like the ads on Facebook when  you look at other ads and like ads are now popping up on Facebook and other websites?

Can you imagine what towns would think if someone offers the town millions of dollars to be able to sell your data? Would the towns say no, or would they go for the money so that they can keep taxes lower?

Another question pops up. Who owns the data? The police? The data reader company?

Then there is the questions on what the data can be used for by the police and which departments?

What happens when it misreads a license plate? (Someone ran a toll in New Jersey and I was told a warrant for my arrest would be issued if I didn’t pay the toll plus the fine. The summons had a picture of “my car” running the tolls, only it wasn’t my car and the license plate. After several back and forths , where I said look at the photo and look at my registration you can see that they are different, that they sent my a form that I had to sign and have it notarized.)

Where will they be located? In black and minority neighborhoods? In the white suburbs? In front of a drug clinic? What about by a homeless shelter? How about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office?

Also how long is the data kept? I read some testimony from a bill that addresses these questions and many police department want to keep the data forever and ever. The ACLU wanted something like 30 days.

The new technology is not going away, it is here and the genie is out of the bottle and there is no stopping it.

But we can control it.

We can pass laws on who owns the data, to limit who has access to the information, and how long can the data be kept. 30 days? 90 days? A year? 10 year? Forever? And also how do we correct errors in the information like I had? We can control where they are used, could one be put outside of a lawyers office? 


So what does this have to do with trans people?

Well suppose you lived down in Texas and they stuck up one of these readers in front of a gender client? Would you feel safe to go there for your medical care? Would you take you trans child there?

What about if they put one outside of a LGBTQ community center where a trans support group meets?

Suppose that there was a big peaceful rally out in front of the statehouse in Austin and the police with police car mounted license plate-readers drove up and the streets around the peaceful protest recording the license plates of all the cars parked nearby, would you go to the protests or would you be intimidated and keep away?


These are some of the questions that we need to ask and we need laws to set the ground rules. There have been bills introduced and hearing held. Some of the information that came out of the hearings were…

HB 6965 AN ACT CONCERNING THE RETENTION OF INFORMATION COLLECTED USING INFRARED NUMBER PLATE SCANNING TECHNOLOGY.

AUTOMATIC LICENSE PLATE RECOGNITION SYSTEMS

Written Testimony Supporting  House Bill 6965, An Act Concerning the Retention of Information Collected When Using Infrared Number Plate Scanning Technology

We cannot put the genie back in the bottle but we can regulate it.

We can set the ground rules now. Will we be like China where your every movement is tracked by the government cameras?

[/EDITORIAL]


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Little Good News

Down in Tennessee the state got its hand slapped pretty good,

“... anything other than what it is: a brazen attempt to single out trans-inclusive establishments and force them to parrot a message that they reasonably believe would sow fear and misunderstanding about the very transgender Tennesseans whom those establishments are trying to provide with some semblance of a safe and welcoming environment," Trauger wrote.”

That is what a federal judge said about the Tennessee bathroom bill according to NBC News.

Federal judge strikes down Tennessee's transgender bathroom sign law
"Transgender Tennesseans are real. The businesses and establishments that wish to welcome them are real," District Judge Aleta A. Trauger wrote.
NBC News
By Jo Yurcaba
May 18, 2022


A federal judge struck down a Tennessee law Tuesday that would have required businesses in the state to post warning notices on their public restrooms if they have policies allowing transgender patrons to use the facilities that match their gender identities.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in June on behalf of two business owners — the owner of Sanctuary, a performing arts and community center in Chattanooga, and the owner of Fido, a restaurant in Nashville, among other businesses.

The law went into effect on July 1, but U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger issued a preliminary injunction against it a week later. Then on Tuesday, Trauger permanently blocked the law by granting the ACLU's motion for summary judgment, which asks a court to decide a case without a full trial.

She wrote in a 40-page decision that the law violates the First Amendment of the Constitution because it compels speech that is controversial and with which the plaintiffs disagree.

I didn’t think that peeing involved the First Amendment, but I will take her decision.

CNN reported that the judge wrote,

In her decision, Trauger took aim at the state’s argument that the plaintiffs had “imagined” undertones that would be seen in such signs, saying: “The only thing that is imaginary in this case, though, is the imagined consensus on issues of sex and gender on which the defendants seek to rely.”

“Transgender Tennesseans are real. The businesses and establishments that wish to welcome them are real. And the viewpoints that those individuals and businesses hold are real, even if they differ from the views of some legislators or government officials,” she wrote. “While those government officials have considerable power, they have no authority to wish those opposing viewpoints away.”

CNN has reached out to Lee’s office for comment on the ruling.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Tim Rudd, said last year that HB 1182 was designated for the “protection of women and children against sexual predators” who enter the restroom of the opposite sex, a transphobic argument that has been used by anti-trans activists in recent history to smear and marginalize members of the community. He said the bill was not specifically aimed at keeping trans Tennesseans out of restrooms that align with their gender.

Oh yeah, we are “ sexual predators” or at least that is what the Republicans think of us and I think that the Republicans are the true predators causing harm to children for political gain.


And it is getting worst, with a petty law banning pronoun use.

Transgender pronoun bill advances in Tennessee's Legislature
The bill would allow public school teachers to refuse to “use a student’s preferred pronoun" if the pronoun is "not consistent with the student’s biological sex.”
NBC News
By Matt Lavietes
April 26, 2022


A bill that would permit teachers to misgender their transgender students is advancing through Tennessee's state legislature.

The measure, SB 2777, would allow the state's public school staff to refuse to "use a student's preferred pronoun when referring to the student if the preferred pronoun is not consistent with the student's biological sex" and protect educators from “civil liability and adverse employment action" for doing so.

Tennessee's House of Representatives passed the measure on Monday by a 67-to-25 vote, and the bill advanced in a state Senate committee on Tuesday. Advocates say that this type of legislation has previously been proposed in West Virginia and Rhode Island, but has never passed through a state's legislative chamber.

The bill's authors have argued that the legislation is necessary to protect teachers and other school staff from "coerced speech."

And the Republicans don’t care if the bill violates federal law…

The Tennessee General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee has warned that the bill could be in "violation of federal law" and "jeopardize federal funding." In a fiscal note published shortly after the new bill was introduced in February, the committee cited a 2021 decision by the U.S. Department of Education to interpret Title IX — a federal law that protects students from sex-based discrimination in federally funded schools — to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination.

Can you imagine a more vengeful law than this bill. What could be meaner that denying pronouns to trans child? It is just so mean spirited.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

My Story Part 169

I am tired of being angry and writing about hate and politics.


All my life I hid, no one knew the real me, I kept it so far hiding that no one had a clue until one day…

At work back in the late 90s we got this newfangled thing called an IBM PC (All you Mac fans out there in business it was all IBM pcs because businesses had Mainframe. IBM PCs worked with mainframe and we used MAPICS and the PCs had an emulator to connect to the mainframe.) and they connected to something called the Internet. We had 4 T1 phone lines. Wow!

But computers were old hats for me, back in 1969 I had my first introduction to computers, in college I learned FORTAN IV on a IBM 1620 which used punch cards, that was followed by BASIC on an IBM 360.

I had my first computer back in 1977 with an amazing about of RAM memory 4K! Yes, you read that right, not 4M but 4K. The computer was a Rockwell AIM 65 with a BASIC Assembler, the AIM 65 used a Rockwell 6502 processor. Then I read something about an Apple coming out with something entirely new a disc operating system and I had to have it! (Somewhere I have the original bill of sale for it) and I got mine months after they went on sale, it also used a 6502 processor but had 64K memory. At home I had a dial-up modem (Which my parents hated because I tired up the phone for hours at a time) and was connected with DELPHI via GE Timesharing Systems.

At work with the IBM PC and the internet my boss asked me to find a replacement for a transformer that we used in a power supply that we made so I went online to the search engine Lycos and typed in “Transformer” and what popped up?

“Holy S**t!”

All of these sites about crossdressers, drag queens, and transsexuals came up!

WTF!

I quickly turned off the computer and sat back and digested what just happened.

At work they offered an interest free loan to buy a PC and they gave us a copy of all the software that the company used. I got up from my desk and marched down to accounting and said I want to buy a computer.

At home I connected up my brand new PC to the internet and started searching, I found the web sites of Melanie Phillips and Dr Becky, along with all the support groups. It was one of those support groups that I found on-line that I went to, Connecticut Outreach Society.

Reading the stories of our early pioneers gave me hope that maybe, just maybe I could survive being an  out trans woman. I joined the Connecticut Outreach Society and started going out in public with the group.

And guess what, my world didn’t collapse, no one really paid any attention to me… I could do it.


Computers untied the world and made a community for us, but it also united the hate.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Bad News From Texas

It seems like all the bad news comes out the south and mid-west, and this is really bad news.

Texas Can Resume 'Child Abuse' Probes of Trans-Supportive Parents
But the Texas Supreme Court, in allowing the probes to continue, questioned the authority of the governor to order them.
The Advocate
By Trudy Ring
May 13, 2022


Texas authorities can resume investigating supportive parents of transgender children for child abuse, although they are not legally required to do so, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday.

An appeals court had blocked the investigations while a lawsuit against the state is heard. But the Texas Supreme Court, ruling in an emergency appeal from state officials, asserted that the appeals court had “abused its discretion,” The New York Times reports.

However, the state cannot investigate the family and psychologist who sued, the high court said, as that would cause “irreparable harm.” And the court cast doubt on the authority of the governor to order the probes in the first place, saying whether to investigate any case is at the discretion of the state’s child welfare agency.

[…]

The Supreme Court, in allowing the investigations to resume, did rule that Abbott and Paxton could not “directly control” the DFPS probes. But it said the appeals court did not have the authority to halt them statewide.

And Texas Tribune reported…

Texas Supreme Court allows child abuse investigations into families of transgender teens to continue
The high court also raised questions about why the state opened these investigations in the first place, noting that the child welfare agency is not bound by directives from the governor.
By Eleanor Klibanoff
May 13, 2022


Texas’ child welfare agency remains blocked from investigating the family of a transgender teen that sued the state in March, but can once again investigate other families that provide gender-affirming care after the Supreme Court of Texas struck down a statewide injunction Friday.

Though it overturned the injunction on procedural grounds, the high court raised questions about why the Department of Family and Protective Services opened these investigations in the first place. The court affirmed in Friday’s ruling that neither Attorney General Ken Paxton nor Gov. Greg Abbott had any grounds to direct the agency’s actions.

Meanwhile NBC News reported that,

An increasing number of child welfare workers in Texas are quitting because of a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott that requires them to investigate child abuse claims against parents suspected of providing gender-affirming care to their transgender children.

[…]

Davis is reportedly not alone. More than a half dozen Child Protective Services employees in the state told The Texas Tribune this month that they have either resigned or were looking for new jobs as a result of Abbott’s directive. 

Sadly these types of laws are spreading through out the Republican states.

This Shouldn't Happen Here

As Republican state keep passing cruel laws designed to cause us harm and they are using it to strip parental rights from the parents and force the children into foster care. One trans child was "dragging her into foster care" by the police.

Police Burst Into 16-Year Old Trans Girl's Bedroom During Livestream
The Advocate
By Donald Padgett
May 11, 2022


Police in Tennessee burst into the room of a 16-year-old transgender girl while she was live streaming on Twitch.

In a video of the stream later posted to YouTube, police can be seen in the background forcing open the door which had been blocked by a chair. Wynn, who posts under the name VioWynn, tells viewers she had been coerced into online schooling because she refused to use the boys’ restroom before the stream abruptly ends.

[…]

Wynn continued playing, saying she was going to act like the police weren’t there because that was “easier.” The stream stopped after the officers and Wynn’s father cut power to the device she was streaming.

Police in Tennessee burst into the room of a 16-year-old transgender girl while she was live streaming on Twitch.

In a video of the stream later posted to YouTube, police can be seen in the background forcing open the door which had been blocked by a chair. Wynn, who posts under the name VioWynn, tells viewers she had been coerced into online schooling because she refused to use the boys’ restroom before the stream abruptly ends.

“Okay well now there’s an officer in here, just trying to join the stream,” Wynn says as the police forced open the blocked door.

[…]

Wynn earlier said the video might be her last “because they're trying to get me to either kill myself or go into foster care” instead of providing her with an in-school education.

According Motherboard,

Wynn told Motherboard that although she’s in foster care currently, she’s doing better now. “I feel less stressed since I now understand more of the ins and outs of foster care,” she said. She was able to have “two amazing streams” at home since then. “The plan now is to try getting a new court date for the foster care people to tell a judge that I don't need to be in foster care in hopes that I can be officially released from DCS custody,” she said, and the school has agreed to let her attend summer school to catch up in time for the second semester of 11th grade next year.

The state with all its power came down on a sixteen old girl just because she is trans and the school systems was discriminating against her.

The website "The Gamer" reported that,

Keffals [a fellow trans livestreamer] has asked legal professionals to reach out to her at inquiries@keffals.info if they are able to help Wynn. TheGamer has reached out to the streamer, and will update this report if we hear anything else about Wynn's situation.

Let's hope that the school respects her gender and stops the bullying and harassment. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday

For some people it is a holy day day but what happens when your religion says get lost, we don’t want you.

I have been Catholic all my life. A new Milwaukee Archdiocese policy on transgender people has driven me from my church.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
By Anne Curley
May 11, 2022


As a cradle Catholic whose values were shaped by 12 years of Catholic education and 60-plus years of Mass attendance, I feel great gratitude for the countless caring sisters, priests and Catholic laypeople who have guided and inspired me through much of my life. I’ve been proud to be associated with the good done by Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations throughout the world.

So it’s with real sadness that I’ve joined the throng who have left the church.

The recently released policy of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on how to treat transgender individuals has made it impossible for me, in good conscience, to call myself a Catholic.

I didn’t come to this decision lightly. When friends would ask how I could be a Catholic despite (choose one or more) the clergy sex abuse scandal, the ban on women priests, the treatment of homosexuality as a disorder, the rules on birth control … I had three well-honed responses:

“A 2,000-year-old, global institution doesn’t change quickly,” “Show me a major human institution that isn’t a mixed bag of strengths and corruption,” and “It’s the good, grace-filled people that keep me hanging in there — not the policies.” 

In the Guardian they wrote,

Centuries ago, the Catholic church denounced left-handed people as servants of the devil. For generations, left-handed Catholic children were forced against their will to become right-handed.

And it was even doing it in the 1960s, when I went to Catholic parochial school my left hand was rapped so many times because I am left handed and I was forced to write at an unnatural angle so I didn’t smudged the fountain pen ink.

The article goes on to say,

I was disillusioned back in my teenage years when I saw all these people in church where holy pious in church and “sinners” the rest of the week and I developed my religious own beliefs that what is important is not what building you sat in on the holly day but rather how you lived your life that counted and how you treat others.

I am not an expert on it, but I think it’s safe to say the subject of gender identity is complex, nuanced and not a good candidate for rigid rules. What I know for sure is that my Catholic education taught me Jesus identified with those whom the rule-makers rejected. I learned that he reserved his harshest criticism for religious leaders who piled heavy burdens on others. Thanks to my Catholic formation, I know that to be Christian means to uplift the dignity of others, especially those who most need uplifting.

I know many trans people who migrated to other affirming churches, some when to Dignity, some went to Episcopal or congregational or MCC or other progressive churches.

I believe that truth is embedded in each of us — that God implanted a unique identity that is ours alone to experience, express and put to good use during our time on Earth.  The fact that society is becoming more accepting of differences in our identities — race, sexual orientation and gender expression being prime examples — strikes me as part of God’s unfolding plan to enable each of us to achieve our full potential.

We each have to find our own spiritual pathway in our journey in life.

I don’t believe in the “Golden Rule,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” I believe that it is seriously flawed. What happens when that person is sadistic or is a masochist, the Golden Rule kind of breaks down. I believe that our goal should be to leave a foot print on this world that make it a safer place for all to live. That includes minimizing our impact on the environment, ending discrimination and doing our part to end disease and pestilence.

To this day my goal and belief in life is when I leave this world that I have made a better life for those who come after me.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Property Taxes

[RANT]

The governor has said that he wants to cut property taxes.

Property taxes are very regressive, first you need to own property that is taxable, for many low income and marginalized communities that is not possible.

Second for many people living on fixed income like retirees it hurts them when taxes goes up and property value goes up. This is seen in many vacation areas like the shore or lake front properties. Many of the homes and farms that have been in families for generations are being forced to sell. When I was in Bar Harbor over fifteen years ago and there were a number of articles in the local media about a farm that was up on the market to be sold. The farm was a working farm on the ocean that was in the family since around the Revolutionary War but the property owner said that the property tax has nearly doubled each year because of the value of the house and land were skyrocketing. The article said that he sold the property for millions of dollars and the builder from Boston was going to build over two dozen 1 million dollar homes on the property.

On the Cape they also have a housing crisis, the summer employees cannot find housing. In the town next to where I have my cottage the town wanted to put in low income housing, but… (You always know there is but somewhere.) the neighbors sued to block the development, after a four year battle they lost. It will be a mixture of low income condos and seasonal apartments. While in Provincetown a whole block was sold  and the new owners what to keep the restaurant for themselves, and covert the apartments to upscale condos, keeping the less desirable apartments to seasonal help.

In Hartford I read that homes were being bought out by large hedge funds, fixed up, and rented out in a price range that locks out most of the residents of Hartford.

Between the rising interest rates, and the skyrocketing price of home, home ownership is becoming even more out of sight for the average income person (Forget low income buyers they were already priced out of the market.).

What the Democrats have proposed is a property tax cap, over a certain mill rate the state will pay the difference. Say if a city has a 40 mill property tax rate and the state caps it at 30 mills per thousand, the state will pay the city the difference, Well I am a staunch supporter of the Democrats but that is ridiculous! If that passes I can just see the cities raising the mills rates, say they raise the rate to 60 mills, that would mean that the state pays the difference, where is the incentive to keep taxes down?

Suppose instead of a cap, the state reimburses the property owners directly? That way the state can tailor the tax relief to low income people to help them buy property.

The state could also focus the tax relief on multifamily homes. The town where I live has zones large areas to multifamily home, but (Here we go again with the “buts.”) they are next to highways, railroad tracks, and next to swamps (Ops… I mean wetlands.).

I saw on the news that we are short millions of housing units, lets talk about how we can cut that shortage and still allow people from all income levels to own their homes.

[/RANTS]


Saturday 9: Give a Little Love

Saturday 9: Give a Little Love (1988)

On Saturdays I take a break from the heavy stuff and have some fun…

Sorry about not answering last week’s Saturday 9, something came up that side tracked me.


Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

In memory of Naomi Judd (1946-2022)

1) In this week's song, the Judds tell us they aren't impressed by diamonds or foreign travel. If you had your choice, would you prefer a $1,500 diamond pendant or a $1,500 voucher from United Airlines?

Hmm… I’ll take the diamond, you could always sell the diamond. There is no place that I would like to go.

2) In the video for this song, the Judds are shown having fun on the beach. Do you have any trips to the beach planned for the upcoming summer months?

Yes, to my cottage but doctor’s appointment, graduation parties, and another events got in my way.

3) Early in their career, this mother-daughter duo performed in clubs venues around San Francisco, where they called themselves The Hillbilly Women. Have you recently been to a bar or restaurant with live music?

Nope, there used to be a coffee shop that I went to for folk music.

4) They moved to Nashville in 1979 in search of greater success. During the three years it took them to score a record contract, Naomi supported the family as a part-time nurse and occasional model. She enjoyed the flexibility so her schedule could accommodate auditions. Do you like having a pre-planned schedule? Or would you rather keep things loose?

Nope. I am retired.

5) Wynona sang the Elvis classic "Burning Love" in 2002 Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. What's the most recent Disney movie you've seen?

Um… it was so long ago I don’t remember. Was Up a Disney movie?

6) In 2011, Wynona wrote her first novel, Restless Heart, about a country singer struggling with the price of fame. Have you ever tried your hand at writing fiction?

Nope, but a friend just write a spy novel that is pretty good. Unfortunately I gave it to my brother to read and I forgot the name.

7) Kid sister Ashley Judd is the only woman in her immediate family to not change her first name. Naomi was born Diana, and Wynona was originally Christina. Do you like your first name?

 Yes, I picked it out myself.

8) In 1988, the year this song was popular, Sonny Bono went from entertainer to politician when he was elected Mayor of Palm Springs. Have you met the mayor of your town?

No. However, I am on an advisory council for the governor does that count?

9) Random question: Were you a member of the Columbia House Record Club?

Yes, I got many of my CDs from them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last month I went to see Amy Schneider of Jeopardy fame at a talk she gave at Sacred Heart University.



Friday, May 13, 2022

It Can’t Happen Here, Because We Are A Blue State

Well it happened!

I get the Triangle Community Center’s newsletter and the first article was…

“Don’t Say Gay” Comes to Connecticut

A lot of folks have been (justifiably) incensed at the legislative attacks on the LGBTQ+ communities in places like Florida and Texas. But did you know that there are leaders right here in Connecticut who seek to erase and deny the humanity of people who are not straight?

Last month, the Greenwich Board of Education adopted a new Title IX policy, which they insist complies with the federal requirement that bars discrimination on the basis of sex—a definition that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled includes the spectrum of gender identity and sexual orientation. In fact, the original draft of the Greenwich policy specifically prohibited “discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Yet the version of the policy passed last month conspicuously removes any language referring to gender identity and sexual orientation. The Board was quick to note that “this policy covers all students, whether or not certain language is included.”

So, if the policy does indeed cover all students, and if the language referencing sexual orientation and gender identity was in the original draft, then why go through the trouble of removing it from the final version?

It almost seems as though the Greenwich Board of Education wants to pretend that the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t exist. If the substance of the policy remains the same, as they say, then the only effect of removing the language about gender identity and sexual orientation is the linguistic pseudo-erasure of the LGBTQ+ community in Greenwich Public Schools. The action of removing any reference to gender identify and sexual orientation mimicks Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law; it is a way to pretend our community doesn’t exist.

This sounds more like a Red state than a Blue state and the city’s First Selectman is not happy,

First Selectman Fred Camillo asserted last June that Greenwich "has always been a leader in ... standing for equity for everybody." We appeal to the Greenwich Board of Education to restore references to gender identity and sexual orientation in their Title IX policy to reflect that commitment to equity. This simple language update would help codify Greenwich as a town where the LGBTQ+ community can feel safe and welcome, especially at a time when we are under attack in so many other parts of the country.

It just goes to show you nowhere is safe from their hate.

Revised BOE Title IX Student Policy Passed without Mention of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation
Greenwich Free Press
May 2, 2022


Back in January, the Greenwich Board of Education voted along party lines on a policy codifying Title IX, which meant it failed to pass.

Andreana Bellach of Shipman and Goodman, an attorney hired by the district, explained that the board was required by law to adopt a policy in compliance with Title IX.

A heated discussion ensued about trans athletes competing in sports, with the four Democratic members voting in favor and the four Republicans voting against.

At the time, Republican Cody Kittle said, “I don’t think we’re doing any harm. We’re just allowing something like that to play out and if down the road we say, you know this is costing too much in lawyers, or causing other issues, we can re-evaluate it.”

Yeah, you don’t see any harm because you are a Lilly white straight male.

The result was the language was amended to remove the statement, “Discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex includes discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The new language added, “The Board agrees to comply with Title IX of the Education amendments of 1972 and the Regulations as amended in the Final Rule promulgated pursuant thereto.”

MAGA Republicans are alive here in the Nutmeg state. That is just about the same language that Trump’s Department of Education used back in 2020, totally ignoring the ruling by the Supreme Court earlier that year.

“As I’ve [A parent and educator] watched the Title IX student policy discussion unfold over the last 6 months, I have at many times been speechless, angry, and unsure if I really heard what I did, and overall ashamed that these conversations are happening at the meetings of the governing body of our schools. “

One thing that clued me in on why the Republicans hate us so much,

 “Schools need to be grounded in science and facts, not political social justice and progressive garbage.”

Kristen Nieminski

Is that they still believe after all these years that we chose to be trans, or gay, they don’t believe in the science.

Yes, even liberal Connecticut this still can happen… VOTE!

Save a life, it just may be your child’s life that is saved.

It Seems Like The More You Spew Hate…

… The better you do in the Republican party.

Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has called for banning Islam in America and said LGBTQ people 'lead with their sexual preference'
Insider
By Bryan Metzger
May 12, 2022


Kathy Barnette, a largely-unknown Pennsylvania Senate candidate, has been surging in support among Republican voters in recent polls with just days to go until next Tuesday's primary election.

But a review of the conservative commentator's public statements, including on social media, reveals a candidate with a history of Islamophobic and homophobic positions that may imperil Republicans' general election chances in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Over the last several years, Barnette has called for the banning of Islam in America, falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama is Muslim, voiced support for a business owner who posted a "No Gays Allowed" sign in his front window, and declared that "homosexuals LEAD with their sexual preference" and should "leave [the] immorality in the bedroom."

And the conservatives are eating it up!

Let me count the ways this all is against the Constitution… but the Republicans don’t let a little thing like the Constitution stop their hate.

She is so far to the right that even the MAGA chief guru is against her,

Highlighting the angst Barnette has caused among the GOP, former President Donald Trump criticized Barnette's candidacy in a Thursday afternoon statement. 

Are the electorate getting tied of all this negativity?

But as Insider's Jake Lahut recently reported from a Trump rally near Pittsburgh, there are signs that Republican voters in Pennsylvania have grown weary of the barrage of primary ads on the local airwaves and are not taking Trump's cues when it comes to supporting Oz.

Oz was even met with boos upon his introduction at the rally. But Barnette could bring an even greater world of headaches to the GOP.

You know I suspect that Connecticut voters are also getting tired of the excessive barrage of ads from the billionaire gubernatorial Republican candidate and it seems like that it is the same garbage from the last election… promising the world but never says how he is going to do it, just pie in the sky promises.


Meanwhile down in Louisiana they are not content to going after trans children now they are after all of us.

In 'unprecedented' move, Louisiana lawmakers revive anti-LGBTQ school bill
A Republican legislator invoked a rare procedural tool to override a committee's decision to kill the measure.
NBC News
By Matt Lavietes
May 12, 2022


The Louisiana House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to revive a bill that would prohibit "topics of sexual orientation or gender identity in any classroom discussion or instruction in kindergarten through grade eight."

The legislation, which critics have dubbed the state's "Don't Say Gay" bill, had been been killed last week in a House education committee bipartisan 7-4 vote.

But on Tuesday, Republican Rep. Raymond Crews used a rare legislative procedural tool, “Committee of the Whole,” which allowed for a full House vote to advance or deny the education committee's decision. The House then voted 55-39 to resurrect the measure.

It is like we’ll see Florida and raise you, making it to the eight grade instead of third grade.
Officially titled the Parental Rights in Education law, the country's first so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill originated in Florida earlier this year and was signed into law in March. The measure bans teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." It will take effect on July 1.

[…]

Louisiana's measure goes further than the Florida law: It also forbids public school employees from discussing their "own sexual orientation or gender identity with students in kindergarten through grade twelve."

So it is like Louisiana legislators never heard of the First Amendment!

Their hate knows no bounds.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Sad

It is very sad that the Republican party believes that their only way to win elections is on the deaths of trans children. Here in Connecticut I have been told that the number of trans high school athletes are less than twenty out of over a thousand high school athletes, and I imagine that in Texas the number is also relatively small.

Hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people under consideration nationwide, Human Rights Campaign says
This year alone, 17 bills that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people have been signed into law in 10 states, the Human Rights Campaign said Monday.
The Hill
By Brooke Migdon
May 10, 2022


Story at a glance

  • More than 335 bills that would negatively affect LGBTQ+ Americans are currently being considered by state lawmakers across the country, the Human Rights Campaign said Tuesday in a weekly update of “bad bills.”
  • At least 10 states this year have signed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation into law, the HRC said, including Alabama, whose gender-affirming care ban went into effect Sunday.
  • Seven states this year have signed transgender athlete bans into law — and more are coming, the HRC said.
  • Keep in mind, trans people are something like only 0.5 to 1 percent of the population, so all these laws are targeting a minority of a minority. Why?

The article goes on to say this about trans athletes.

Proponents of these measures have argued that inherent “biological differences” exist between males and females, and transgender women and girls hold an unfair advantage over cisgender female competitors. Legislators in favor of transgender athlete bans regularly invoke the recent victories of Lia Thomas, a swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania who in March became the first transgender woman to win a national Division I title.

WAIT A MINUTE!

All throughout my life high school sports was sold as building character, leadership skills, and teamwork. So what they are saying is that trans are not worthy to learn those skills?

Or has sports become more about winning? Winning at all cost.

Or some have said it is college scholarships that are important. Well less than one percent of high school athletes receive scholarships and of those a small sliver goes on to the pros. So if it all about going on to the pros then the whole high school sports programs are to send maybe 4 or 5 high school athletes to go on to the pros to make millions. Does that seem fair to you? That we deny trans athletes the right to learn life skills because we want to send a half a dozen students on to the pros?

The opposition to the anti-trans sports bills say…

But those opposed to these bills say they are solutions to nonexistent problems that put the mental health and well-being of transgender children at risk. Transgender athlete bans passed this year are “further isolating trans kids and preventing them from having the same opportunities as their friends,” the HRC tweeted Monday, “and more are close to passing.”

And if this is all about teaching life leadership skills, then what is it teaching? That discrimination against marginalized peoples is okay? That bullying minorities is okay? That winning is the only thing that matters?

This isn’t about sports, this is about stirring up hate and anger to get the conservative to get out and vote and donate.


The Assistant Secretary for Health has spoken out on the anti-trans bills popping up in Republican states.

Rachel Levine calls state anti-LGBTQ bills disturbing and dangerous to trans youth
NPR Radio
By Selena Simmons-Duffin
April 29, 2022


The highest ranking transgender official in U.S. history will give a speech in Texas Saturday, urging physicians-in-training to fight political attacks against young trans people and their families.

Adm. Rachel Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary for health, will make a speech in Fort Worth at the Out For Health Conference at Texas Christian University.

In prepared remarks shared exclusively with NPR, she writes: "Trans youth in particular are being hounded in public and driven to deaths of despair at an alarming rate. Fifty-two percent of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. Think about how many of them thought it was better to die than to put up with any more harassment, scapegoating and intentional abuse."

Political attacks against trans young people are on the rise across the country. Over 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced in state houses this year, according to an analysis by Freedom for All Americans and the Guardian. Many of these legislative attacks use scientific language to justify their political aims, she says. In her prepared remarks, she concludes: "The language of medicine and science is being used to drive people to suicide."

We need to stir up our base to go out and vote this fall!

If you do not vote then you are giving your implicit consent to the attacks on us by the right-wing bigots.

Grooming, No Not About Fluffy

Grooming is the new buzzword that the Republicans are using to generate hate. The way the Republicans use it is transphobic and homophobic slur.

Accusations of 'grooming' are the latest political attack — with homophobic origins
NPR
By Melissa Block
May 11, 2022


Mallory McMorrow was stunned when she saw it.

With horror, the Michigan state senator, a Democrat, read an email accusing her of "grooming" children. The email was sent by a fellow senator, Republican Lana Theis, who was soliciting funds from her supporters for her reelection campaign.

In that email, Theis wrote that children are "under assault in our schools" by what she called "progressive mobs trying to steal our children's innocence."

And then it got personal.

"She accused me by name of grooming and wanting to sexualize kindergartners," McMorrow tells NPR. "I mean, my heart absolutely sank."

McMorrow says she kept thinking about her 1-year-old daughter, Noa.

You have to understand the origins of the word “grooming” and it is…

"You know, grooming is the act of befriending a child for the purpose of molesting them," she says. "Just the most horrific, disgusting, vile accusation that can be thrown at you."

Lately, that accusation has been thrown at those who support LGBTQ rights —teachers, companies, politicians — in addition to McMorrow: "Grooming" has become an incendiary buzzword of right-wing rhetoric, weaponized in the fight over anti-LGBTQ legislation.

It is a vile term that the Republicans and conservatives are using just for political gains. Not only that but are causing emotional harm to people who are victims of child abuse. USA Today reported that...

Some conservatives have begun using words like "grooming" often associated with child sex abuse.

Such rhetoric hurts the LGBTQ people, particularly gay men who have long been accused of predatory behavior.

Careless use of words connected to child sex abuse diminishes the experience of survivors, advocates say.

And in another NPR article,

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

One word features in a lot of recent right-wing rhetoric, and that word is grooming.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT")

TUCKER CARLSON: They're grooming 7-year-olds and talking to 7-year-olds about their sex lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE")

LAURA INGRAHAM: This isn't programming. This is propaganda for grooming.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

J D VANCE: If you don't want to be called a groomer, don't try to sexualize 6- and 7-year-old children.

INSKEEP: OK. That was Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham of Fox News, along with Ohio U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, just a few of those who've been pushing a baseless accusation. NPR's Melissa Block reports it is a smear with a history.

Republicans are not running a campaign about the issues instead they are running their campaigns on issues that are wedge issues and using transphobia and homophobia to create fear.

We have seen this since the 1970s Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign and the 1950s with the Lavender Scare and. NBC News had an article on Bryant last month in it they said,

Action had to be taken, and a campaign to limit the legal rights of LGBTQ people — all in the name of protecting children — was enacted. A woman who spoke at this hearing said it was her right to control “the moral atmosphere in which my children grow up.” That woman was Anita Bryant, formerly Miss Oklahoma and a white, telegenic, Top 40 singer who was well known for her Florida orange juice commercials (“A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine!” she’d say). Bryant spearheaded an anti-LGBTQ campaign of such impact that its echoes can be heard in today’s rhetoric. The year was 1977.

[…]

“It’s a contemporary version on these older attempts to annul homosexuality,” said Lillian Faderman, author of “The Gay Revolution,” among other queer history titles.

“In the present environment, you can’t go after homosexual teachers anymore,” Faderman said. “We have too many allies. And so Florida has found another way to do it by this ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which doesn’t go after homosexual teachers precisely. But the idea is the same. That is, that homosexuality is a pariah status, and it shouldn’t be discussed in the public schools.” 

It is staring again, all the hate, all the discrimination, and all the bigotry. Time in their article, "You've Probably Heard of the Red Scare, but the Lesser-Known, Anti-Gay 'Lavender Scare' Is Rarely Taught in Schools" [In an early version of what is now call "Critical Race Theory" otherwise know as censorship, we can't have our children learn of what bad people we were back then.] wrote:

What happened to Shoemaker [Shoemaker was an employee of the National Security Agency who was fired because he was gay.] in 1980 was the continuation of a policy launched nearly 30 years earlier, in 1953. Under President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450, the investigation, interrogation and systematic removal of gay men and lesbians from the federal government became policy. Known as the “Lavender Scare,” the policy was based on the unfounded fear that gay men and lesbians “posed a threat to national security because they were vulnerable to blackmail and were considered to have weak moral characters,” says historian David K. Johnson. According to him, this aspect of American history has largely been overlooked.

The Republicans are at it again Transphobia & Homophobia 2.0.

But thanks to social media it is more robust than the 1970 attempt to stir up hate against us is on steroids.


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

They Won!!!

The Seminole County School Board said that they will not cover up the protest pictures!

Seminole County school board decides 'Don't Say Gay' protest yearbook photos will remain uncovered
WESH
By Luana Munoz
May 11, 2022


The school board had made it clear that they couldn't change school policy and that the stickers would remain.

However, new information came to light during a public comment, where they all agreed the images would not be covered.

"The enthusiasm from students that happen to be here today, this made me realize and think that looking at yearbooks and comments, who is to say that one comment is better than the other," Abby Sanchez, the vice chair with Seminole County Public Schools said.

"We should be able to voice our concerns and we shouldn't have anyone take that right away from us," Sanchez said.

ABC News said,

Seminole County School Board members rejected that plan Tuesday night, voting 5-0 to order smaller stickers that don't cover up the page's words and pictures while explaining that the March protest over the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill outside Lyman High School was unauthorized.

It was a good compromise, both got what they wanted but not everything. The school board agreed not to cover up the protest photos just the comments, while the students got to keep their photos of the protest against the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

A Difference Between Red And Blue.

Just about every school in Connecticut has a Gay Straight Alliance (Something like 120 towns out of 169 towns in Connecticut.) and some towns and cites have multiple GSAs. Back in 2019 I wrote about GSAs and only 3 states had over 50% GSAs in their schools and Connecticut was one of them.

When I graduated from grad school many of the students (Both undergraduate and graduate.) wore rainbow shawls. I know a lot of students had rainbows around them in yearbook pictures. Heck I’m am probably in one of the yearbook pictures from 2017 when I was invited to speak along with the state senator at a GSA function for the bill to ban conversion therapy so there is a good chance that one of the students took a picture that ended up in the yearbook. But down in the authoritarian state of Florida it is kaput. Nein. Verboten.

Florida school yearbook on hold over student protest photos
AP
May 10, 2022


Yearbooks at a central Florida high school won’t be distributed until images of students holding rainbow flags and a “love is love” sign while protesting the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law can be covered up.

District officials said they don’t want anyone thinking that the school supported the students’ walkout.

Lyman High School Principal Michael Hunter said in a statement Monday that “pictures and descriptions” documenting a student walk-out in March in response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law should have been “caught earlier in the review process.”

The bill, signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

“Rather than reprinting the yearbook at substantial cost and delay, we have elected to cover that material that is out of compliance with board policy so that yearbooks can be distributed as soon as possible,” the principal’s statement said.

[…]

Lawrence noted that the yearbook dedicates a separate page to the school’s Gay Straight Alliance Club and elsewhere shows students at a pride march and holding rainbow flags. He said those depictions do comply with the policy.

I would hate to be the faculty advisor, they will probably be looking for a new job right about now.

“This really shouldn’t be happening because all we did as journalists was document what was happening at our school on our campus,” Skye Tiedemann, one of the yearbook’s editors-in-chief, told the Sentinel. “To have that covered up isn’t right. ... This is censorship.”

You want to bet that the editors and faculty advisor are being blamed for it by the administration? While the students will have none of that…

Students at the school in Longwood, which is near Orlando, have created a hashtag “#stopthestickers,” which is circulating on social media. They also planned a peaceful protest at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Seminole County School Board, WKMG reported.

[…]

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from the Orlando area, said in a letter to school board members that she was disappointed by the decision.

“Students were empowered to craft a yearbook that reflects their lived experience of the academic year and did so with professionalism — sharing a piece of history on Lyman’s campus, one that should be reflected upon,” Eskamani said. “Not censored.”


Then we have this down in Virginia, where the governor is a Trump wannabe, where if you take out a book from the school library it gets reported to your parents.

Va. school board proposes telling parents how students self-identify
Some fear that teachers will be required to ‘out’ LGBTQ students to their parents
Washington Post
By Hannah Natanson
May 7, 2022


A Virginia school board is considering a proposal that would require schools to notify parents of students’ “self-identification” — spurring worries that teachers will be forced to reveal the gender identity or sexuality of LGBTQ students without their consent.

The resolution, slated for discussion by Orange County Public Schools at a board meeting Monday, was proposed by board member Chelsea Quintern in compliance with a state law signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) in April that says Virginia school districts must notify parents whenever instructional materials include sexually explicit content and must provide alternative, non-explicit materials if requested.

Citing the law, the Orange County resolution says that “students shall not be subjected … to curriculum, materials, and discussions relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other sexually explicit subject without explicit consent from their parent(s).”

A second provision adds that “the Orange County Public School Board requires schools to notify parents of healthcare services and involvement in critical decisions affecting students’ physical, mental and emotional well-being; including, but not limited to self-identification.”

So now being gay or trans is considered to “affecting students’ physical, mental and emotional well-being” and I say outing a student who may or not be LGBTQ+ does more to stigmatize a child and cause harm emotional harm to the child than being LGBTQ+.

As for the resolution that requires reporting students’ self-identification to parents, the teacher said it has left “students really enraged” and teachers feeling “rage and a deep sadness.” He said teachers in the district estimate that at least 80 percent of students who are members of the Gay-Straight Alliance club are “not out to their parents.”

When I hear people say that there are no differences between the Democrats and the Republicans I point out things like these incidents.

Republicans = control of our lives.

Democrats = freedom.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Support From An Unlikely Place.

Many trans people only think religion being against us but there are affirming churches…

Panel of medical professionals skewers Texas and Alabama actions against transgender health care; separate study finds most children who transition stick with their choice
Baptist News
By Mark Wingfield
May 9, 2022


The opinion of the Texas attorney general and a new Alabama law — both seeking to criminalize health care for transgender youth — are based on either blatant lies for political purpose or the use of outdated and discredited evidence, according to a panel of medical professionals who specialize in the care of gender dysphoria and pediatrics.

“The medical claims are not grounded in reputable science and are full of errors of omission and inclusion. These errors, taken together, thoroughly discredit the attorney general opinion’s claim that standard medical care for transgender children and adolescents constitutes child abuse. The Alabama law contains similar assertions of scientific fact, and these too are riddled with errors, calling into question the scientific foundations of the law,” the scholars declared.

Did you have to notices that this was in the Baptist News? That was what caught my eyes about the article, where it was published, the article goes on to say.

The stakes in this battle are exceptionally high, as Republican politicians are working to deny health care for transgender children and teens and to make criminals of the physicians, counselors and parents who seek such care for them. Nowhere has this been more contentious than Texas, where the inflammatory legal opinion issued by the attorney general Feb. 18 led Gov. Greg Abbott to call medical care for transgender minors “child abuse” and to ask other state agencies to immediately investigate anyone found to be engaged in such.

Transgender identity has become the latest flashpoint in Republican and conservative evangelical tactics to generate outrage in the nation’s culture wars, even though transgender persons represent less than 1% of the population and are considered among society’s most vulnerable persons.

The full weight and power of the Republicans are directed against, you have to ask why? Why are they lying and stirring up hate against us?

Paxton’s opinion and the Alabama law “falsely claim that current medical standards authorize the surgical sterilization of transgender children and adolescents. In fact, present medical standards state that individuals must be the age of majority or older before undergoing surgery on genitals or reproductive organs.”

Paxton’s opinion and the Alabama law “ignore the substantial benefits of medical care for transgender children and adolescents, care which has consistently been shown to reduce gender dysphoria and improve mental health. The best scientific evidence shows that gender dysphoria is real, that untreated gender dysphoria leads predictably to serious, negative medical consequences, and that gender-affirming care significantly improves mental health outcomes, including reducing rates of suicide.”

This is an all out attack of a cultural war directed us, their lies are generating hate that results in physical attacks against us, hate crimes against trans people are breaking records, last more violence was directed at us than ever before.

The article ends with…

The repeated errors and omissions in the attorney general opinion are so consistent and so extensive that it is difficult to believe that the opinion represents a good-faith effort to draw legal conclusions based on the best scientific evidence,” the doctors state. “It seems apparent that the attorney general opinion is, rather, motivated by bias and crafted to achieve a preordained goal: to deny gender-affirming care to transgender youth. The same is true of the scientific claims made in the Alabama law.”

But that wasn’t the only news article in the Baptist News yesterday.

Three transgender ministers tell their stories and offer counsel to churches
By Jeff Brumley
May 9, 2022


Being transgender and Christian doesn’t have to create distress, trans minister Donnie Anderson said during a webinar held to familiarize churches with that segment of the LGBTQ community.

“I hope young people today, and other people as well, will never have to struggle with the question I struggled with, and which I know others struggle with: that … I can either be authentically who I am or I can be a person of faith, but I can’t be both. I’m here as living testimony to the fact that you can be both,” said Anderson, interim minister of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in New Bedford, Mass., during “Welcoming the Transgender Community,” a May 4 virtual panel discussion presented by the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

Anderson, who also serves as an AWAB board member, was joined on the panel she moderated by Erica Saunders, among the first openly transwomen ordained into Baptist ministry and pastor of Peace Community Church in Oberlin, Ohio, and by Dante Tavolaro, rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville, R.I.

[…]

The panelists also shared suggestions for individuals and congregations interested in becoming welcoming of transgender persons.

Tavolaro advised churches to be prepared for the learning curve that comes with a welcoming and affirming ministry. “Accept and know and come to terms with the fact that you are going to fail. You’re going to mess things up. You’re going to get stuff wrong. Knowing that up front will help you be prepared to be corrected and to help keep a posture of openness and to continue to learn and not get defensive.”

There was also another article in the Baptist News this was from 2018,

Why being transgender is not a sin
By Mark Wingfield
November 9, 2018


I recently met a lovely young family in the northern suburbs of Dallas. They told me they previously attended a large Baptist church there – until their high school son became their daughter.

The mother was committed to her volunteer work in the church, and when she told the pastor who supervised that ministry area that her child was transgender, the pastor said: “That’s fine. We love everybody here. But it’s still a sin.”

[…]

Even among Christians who appear kind or progressive, too often the existence of someone who identifies as transgender gets chalked up to “sin.” No doubt that’s the root reason so many Christians happily pile on against transgender persons and their family members about bathrooms and schools, because in their heart of hearts, they don’t understand transgender identity and simply default to thinking it is a sinful lifestyle choice.

But the author is not having any of this “sin” stuff.

Here’s the problem with even a literal reading of that passage: Transgender persons will tell you they are not “men” putting on “women’s” clothing or “women” putting on “men’s” clothing. Instead, they are declaring an identity much deeper than clothing; they are saying that they are dressing outwardly to match who they know they are on the inside. This is not cross-dressing, which is not the subject of this column. Cross-dressing is about finding pleasure in wearing certain clothes. Being transgender is about finding mental and spiritual peace by aligning outward presentation with inner being.

[…]

Some people today identify as “gender fluid,” meaning they find in themselves bits of both male and female identity and cannot definitely say they are one or the other. While this may sound unsettling to some of us on first hearing, a return to Genesis might help. There we also learn that God created both “night” and “day” and that God separated “land” from “sea.” Yet we have no problem understanding the existence of dawn and dusk or marshes and everglades. Also, the point of Genesis 1 is inclusion, not exclusion. The ancient text tells us that God created everything: “and,” not “or.”

[…]

There’s an easy way to remember why this is wrong: Transgender identity is about who a person is. It is about their fundamental being as humans created by God in God’s image – an image that God has declared to be good.

So there are many affirming churches out there, done paint all religions with a broad brush. We need all the allies that we can get and when we have a church defending out back they carry more weight when they back us than we can.

As I have said many times when we were trying to pass the non-discrimination we had a strong religious backing including an Episcopal bishop.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Have The Conservatives Shot Themselves In The Foot?

It is coming to bite them in the ass. Their holly grail banning abortion that they just won is causing major companies second thoughts on which horse they are backing.

Republicans have always said that they are pro-business but corporate businesses are starting to question that when the Republicans attacked Disney and now the Republicans are stepping on Citigroup’s toes over abortion rights. But with all the anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion laws being passed corporate America is saying “Wait a minute! We want to hire the best employees and they don’t want to go to conservative states.”

Corporate America buckles down for culture war on Roe v Wade
Republicans are mulling retaliation against firms providing benefits such as travel assistance for employees seeking abortion
Guardian
By Lauren Aratani
May 8, 2022


After a supreme court decision that overturns Roe v Wade was leaked and signaled the impending end of federal constitutional protection for abortions, a trickle of companies have slowly started to announce policies that provide abortion access for their employees. But while the protections may keep employees and consumers happy, the threat of retaliation from conservative lawmakers looms.

Citigroup, one of the biggest banks in the US, quietly started covering the travel expenses of employees who want to get an abortion but are banned from getting one in their home state.

The Republicans are hopping mad over that!

Conservatives in Congress asked House and Senate administrators to cancel its contract with the company, which issues credit cards to lawmakers to use for work-related flights, office supplies and other goods. A state lawmaker in Texas, infuriated by Citigroup, introduced a bill that would prevent companies from doing business with local governments in Texas if they provide abortion-related benefits to their employees.

“Citigroup decided to pander to the woke ideologues in its C-suite instead of obeying the laws of Texas,” said Briscoe Cain, the Texas state representative who introduced the bill, in a statement. “We will enact laws necessary to prevent this misuse of shareholder money and hold Citigroup accountable for its violation of our state’s abortion laws”.

All of a sudden the Republicans are telling them how to run their businesses.

Over the last few years, corporate America has started to become more vocal on various issues that have gotten the attention of conservative lawmakers, including voting rights and LGBTQ+ issues. But conservative politicians have gotten bolder at fighting back against what they consider to be “woke capitalism”.

But the Republicans haven't woken to that fact yet… that they are butting into how companies run their businesses in supposedly "business friendly" states.

“We are at the moment everyone’s cried wolf about. It’s here, but there was also a lot of headwind,” she said. “What companies can do with a stroke of a pen to mitigate some of the harm is important, but the larger issue is getting out of this structural whirlpool that we’re in.”

The Republicans have just “woke” the sleeping giant but they haven’t figured it out.

Abortion Is a Business Issue
Women make up half of the work force, but the issue’s divisiveness has led many companies to keep quiet on the issue for now.
The New York Times
By Andrew Ross Sorkin, Vivian Giang, Stephen Gandel, Lauren Hirsch, Ephrat Livni, Jenny Gross and Anna Schaverien
May 4, 2022


After a Supreme Court draft ruling showed that Roe v. Wade may be overturned, many of America’s corporate leaders reacted with silence. Abortion is a business issue: Women make up more than half of the work force, and those who were unable to get abortions were less likely to be employed full time six months after denial of care, according to a 2018 paper.

But abortion is also one of the most divisive topics in American politics, and the state of public opinion on the issue is complex. Most Americans support at least some access to abortion, and most support restrictions that Roe v. Wade does not permit. Companies choosing to offer new policies to support employees seeking abortions — or choosing not to — risks dividing customers, employees and clients.

[…]

Companies may start treating reproductive health as an employee benefit to attract talent. “We want to be able to recruit and retain employees wherever they might be living,” Yelp previously told DealBook. But that search for talent is complicated. Restrictive abortion laws have the biggest effects on low-wage workers, who cannot as easily afford to travel out of state for an abortion, and many of their employers, such as at Walmart and Kroger, are headquartered in Republican-led states. “If they’re facing enough of a labor shortage that they think it’ll matter in terms of hiring people at the rate that they want,” said Amanda Shanor, an assistant professor of constitutional law at the Wharton School, “then they might do something.”

And if like many Republicans start passing laws banning companies from paying for abortions and travel you might start seeing businesses start thinking twice about moving to conservative states because it will be affecting their bottom line in not being able to hire the best talent.

The Washington Post wrote,

The news this week caught corporate America off-guard, resulting in a barrage of worried emails and phone calls trailing into the night as corporate officials grappled with the realization that the slew of state abortion laws were simply dress rehearsals for a bigger nationwide policy shift.

“The communication with corporate parties has just been nonstop,” said Jen Stark, senior director at Tara Health Foundation, an investment firm focused on gender and racial equity. “Companies that were gearing up for impact in June are feeling the reality set in now.”

[…]

Businesses with workers coast-to-coast might face logistical hurdles to providing equal access to health care in Texas vs. California. Entire parts of the country might be ruled in or out for new development and investment. Some companies might struggle to attract new hires to states with abortion bans, while other employees might seek out work only in those same areas.

“This issue is going to force a lot of companies to take a side,” said Laura Gitman, chief operating officer of the nonprofit business consultancy BSR.

To quote Jimi Hendrix, “Click bang, what a hang, your daddy just shot poor me.” the Republicans don’t know yet that they shot themselves in the foot.

I Remember… June 2009.

2004 before I came out, I’m in
 incognito at a marriage equality rally.
When marriage equality passed in Connecticut all the celebrations and the partying!

And then the money dried up. Donations stopped to Love Makes A Family and they closed their doors. We got what we want… goodbye.

But the problem was the conservatives didn’t stop, they came out with a long range plan to overthrow equality and we are now seeing the fruits of that effort pay off for them as they packed the Supreme Court.

If Roe v. Wade falls, are LGBTQ rights next?
The Dallas Morning News
By Lauren McGaughy
May 4, 2022


A leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s forthcoming opinion on abortion says that the rights to gay marriage and same-sex partner intimacy may be safe — but only for now.

On Monday, Politico released a document that shows the court is poised to overturn the right to abortion decided in the 1973 landmark Texas case Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday confirmed the leaked document’s veracity, but said it does not represent the court’s decision or the ultimate position of any justice.

If it proves to be the final version, or close to it, the opinion would not only uphold a Mississippi ban on abortions at 15 weeks but also overturn Roe and trigger even stricter bans in other states, including Texas.

Constitutional law experts believe the draft opinion also sheds light on the future of LGBTQ rights in this state and across the country. In the document, Justice Samuel Alito makes clear that the decision would apply only to abortion and that it should not be read to have any effect on previous rulings upholding gay unions and striking down bans on gay sex.

You can bet your sweet bippy!

We are on the radar of the conservatives.

This hand picked conservative Supreme Court by the Republicans who put the Bible before the Constitution loves the phrase “State Rights” and I see the handwriting on the wall they we are on the path to rollback our rights for the first time since the Supreme Court Dread Scott decision.

“Once you pull one string, the others become much more loose. The binding is really threatened,” Kreis said. “All of our rights, all of our civil liberties, they rise and fall together. They’re intertwined.”

While the fabric of LGBTQ rights would not unravel immediately, Kreis said it would be much easier for anti-gay advocates to fray it around the edges as Roe falls. If the right to privacy is lost in the abortion setting, for example, states could argue they have an interest in imposing their will on other private medical decisions, like treatments for transgender patients, especially children and adolescents.

“We’re in for a very ugly few months, few years,” Kreis said.

Say goodbye to the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, say goodbye to the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling.

What a horrible hodgepodge the court is going to make if they overturn marriage equality!

Can you imagine a couple is married in Connecticut and move to Texas were marriage will probably be banned what a legal nightmare that will create. Then what about if a person has an abortion in another where it is legal, could they be prosecuted for murder if it was legal in the state where they had an abortion?

Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution is called the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” which says that states have to recognize a contract from another state… marriage is a contract so Texas will have to recognize their marriage.

It is coming… mark my words and we better be ready for it. Our rights are not a done deal.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Whoa! This Is Big!

You all know about the Supreme Court leak and you probably know the is on a big “Religious Freedom” kick. Well the two just collided big time.

If they overturn Roe v. Wade and states pass laws making abortion murder well they just ran afoul of a major religion with millions of followers!

Supreme Court’s Roe ruling would trample the religious freedom of every Jewish American
San Francisco Chronicle
By Daniel Bogard and Tana Senn
May 6, 2022


The Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade sent shock waves throughout our country when it was leaked this week. If the ruling stands, abortion access would be decimated in huge swaths of the country, and the rights of Americans everywhere will depend on whether they happen to live in a blue state or in a red state. Beyond being a violation of the human rights of pregnant people, limiting access to abortion is an imposition of governmental Christianity on us all.

And it infringes on the religious liberty of every American Jew.

For Jews, it is no exaggeration to say that access to abortion services isn’t just tolerated, it is a religious requirement, and has been for thousands of years.

[…]

The Torah couldn’t be more explicit: A fetus is not the same as a human life.

The Talmud, a central religious text for Jews written over 1,400 years ago, makes this even clearer by stating that “a fetus is considered a part of the pregnant person’s body, equivalent to their thigh.”

[...]

 Jewish legal rulings from the last 1,000 years additionally make it clear that there are other circumstances beyond a pregnant person’s life being in physical danger where an abortion must be performed. Judaism also recognizes personal well-being, mental health and all sorts of other situations where a person might choose to terminate a pregnancy.

~~~~~~~~~

There was also an article on NPR about this.

When does life begin? Religions don't agree
By Sarah McCammon
May 8, 2022<


In a bill introduced this past week, a Louisiana lawmaker describes human life as "created in the image of God" and seeks to make abortion a homicide from the moment of fertilization – sparking concerns from reproductive rights advocates that such a law would also jeopardize access to contraception and fertility treatments.

Debates around abortion often center around the issue of when life begins, and adjacent religious and moral questions. It came up during oral arguments last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a major abortion case currently before the Supreme Court.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Mississippi's solicitor general to explain his view that the state should be allowed to ban abortions, calling it a religious question that's been debated since the beginning of time.

"It's still debated in religions," she said. "So when you say this is the only right that takes away from the state the ability to protect a life, that's a religious view, isn't it?"

[…]

A variety of views

Polls suggest that while a majority of Americans support abortion rights and oppose overturning Roe, views on abortion are often closely tied to religion.

Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian and non-religious Americans express some of the strongest support for abortion rights in surveys. Within Christianity, there's a wide variety of views.

Ryan Anderson, president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, opposes abortion. As a Catholic, Anderson believes that human life begins at conception.

[...]

Margaret Kamitsuka, an emeritus professor of religion at Oberlin College, argues there's significant ambiguity about abortion in the Christian tradition. She notes it's never mentioned in the Bible.

"Which is quite stunning," she said, "because pretty much every other moral issue is talked about – from divorce to gluttony and robbery and so on."

The topic of religion was brought up in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case currently before the Supreme Court.

Amicus briefs in the Dobbs case before the Supreme Court have come from a wide variety of faith groups — with widely varying positions. A brief from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and other groups argues that religion is "at the heart" of anti-abortion laws, and that "government has no business requiring citizens to comply with the religious beliefs of those who are in power."

So in other words if a state says abortion is murder and life begins at contraception then the states will be tramping on the religious beliefs of millions of people. If the courts decide in favor of the states then the courts will be endorsing the Christian religion.

This is what happens when the court puts the Bible ahead of the Constitution.


Affirming.

Churches I believe can be divided in to two types… Affirming and Non-affirming. And they can be in the same religion or denomination, different sects can have different views about us. For an example there are sects within the Episcopal religion that are accepting of us and others that want to damn us to hell. We had an Episcopal Bishop testify in favor of the trans non-discrimination bill.

How should Black churches respond to the fight for LGBTQ rights?
A recent panel explored Black Christians’ responses to the Equality Act and Fairness for All Act
Desert News
By Kelsey Dallas
April 30, 2022


In the Rev. Cedric Harmon’s religious tradition, the prayers offered at church almost always start the same way. Worshippers acknowledge God and then give thanks for life, health, strength and safety, four blessings that every human needs.

“We thank God for those blessings and recognize how core they are,” he said.

The Rev. Harmon reminds people of those prayers when they question why the Black church should fight for LGBTQ civil rights protections. He tells them to stop feeling like gay and transgender Americans are seeking special treatment. What they want, he says, are the same basic blessings you ask for at church.

“The legislation we’re talking about would guarantee access to housing, health care, food and employment — blessings that everyone should have the ability to enjoy,” the Rev. Harmon said during an April 27 webinar titled “The Black Church and LGBTQ Rights.”

[…]

In the past, many Black churches chose silence over difficult conversations. Not too long ago, the only time you’d hear church members talk about LGBTQ issues was in secret, behind closed doors, Anderson said.

I see two facts here, the first is that the affirming churches are afraid of stepping up and saying that that they support us. Second, it is like the debate on marriage equality where the mainstream media loves conflict. Having religious leaders on the news that supported marriage equality didn’t sell ads but having anti-marriage clergy on sold ads. They don’t want everyone signing Kumbaya instead they rather have a Jerry Springer type people on the news, with all the shouting and shoving.

As of 2021, nearly 8 in 10 Black Protestants (78%) supported laws that would protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination, but just 55% supported same-sex marriage, according to Public Religion Research Institute.

Despite that strong level of support for LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, the Black church’s engagement with modern gay rights debates is still relatively low. Through their participation in the panel and their regular work, Anderson and the other speakers are working to disrupt the status quo.

We are now in another time of Martin Niemöller famous quotation “First they came for the socialists…” they are coming for us now.

Right now all the anti-LGBTQ+ hate is coming from non-affirming churches, it is time for the affirming churches to say ENOUGH!

The affirming churches  can no longer remain silent, remain silent tacit approval of the bigotry.

We need those who call themselves allies to stand up and be counted. Their voices carry more weight than our voices.

They need to go to legislative hearing to testify against anti-trans bills and tell the legislators ENOUGH!

They need to go to the Board of Education meeting and say about the book bannings… ENOUGH!

They need to stand up next to us and say ENOUGH to the hate!